8 Brilliant Benefits of Basketball

Written by Austen Lenihan | 19 December 2020

Benefits of basketball, with a man defending against an attacker in a college game.

As a sport that suits all shapes, sizes, skill levels and ages, basketball is a growing phenomenon that’s popular in many regions across the globe.

Whether you’re playing with a playful or competitive spirit, there are many physical and mental benefits which make engaging with the sport seem really worthwhile.

Here are some of the biggest health benefits of playing basketball (with jump links):

Improves Muscular Endurance

Basketball requires agility, strength and stamina, alongside mental fortitude of course. These attributes will improve over time, i.e. the more you play the stronger you’ll become.

As aforementioned, basketball involves quick movements and changes of direction. These occur at high intensities, over short durations with quick muscle contractions.

Collectively, these movements contribute to enhanced muscular endurance [1]. This occurs because the more you play, the more your muscles will naturally learn how to repeatedly apply force over extended periods.

This will have a positive effect on energy levels, stamina and overall performance.

Summary: Basketball requires quick movements that require explosive muscle contractions. With consistency, this will increase your overall muscle endurance [1].

Improves Balance

Balance is another natural benefit you will acquire over consistent basketball practice. This is because the sport requires you to move your body quickly with a hyperfocus on the objective.

Whether it’s jumping, pivoting or changing direction, you’ll naturally develop the speed, balance, and hand-eye coordination to be able to perform skills like passing, dribbling and shooting with perfect balance to enhance your movements.

Summary: Basketball will increase your balance due to the extraneous movement and hand-eye coordination required to play the sport.

Boosts Heart Health

Engaging in any form of regular physical activity will boost your heart health and overall fitness levels.

Benefits like these translate to everyday life, where being in a better physical state will further bolster your health and emotional wellbeing.

Research suggests [2] basketball improves your resting heart rate, with an overwhelmingly positive effect on cardiorespiratory fitness. As a result, you’ll be much less likely to develop cardiovascular disease [3].

Summary: Basketball will require you to push your heart intensely for short bursts which works wonders for your health.

Reduces Stress

Whenever we engage in physical activities, the body releases endorphins [4]. These hormones are partly responsible for mood regulation, giving you that feel-good, happiness factor.

Playing basketball will make you happy, especially when you’re competing at high intensities. This can, of course, be with your friend at a park, or in a competitive, indoor environment.

Regardless of your setting, the endorphins released while playing basketball can alleviate depression, enhance your work-performance, and boost self-esteem.

Another useful side effect of playing basketball is the way it helps you fine-tune your concentration skills. Basketball requires intense focus and concentration, which can help you develop a sense of present moment awareness and mindfulness.

This can ultimately help you combat anxiety in other areas, as you develop a measured sense of will power and focus on your life goals.

Summary: Basketball can help reduce stress because whenever you engage in the sport with some intensity, you’re able to release endorphins and reduce adrenaline and cortisol [5].

Improves Self-Confidence

As basketball is a team sport, it can help you find your voice. In this environment, you’ll learn more about yourself, and increasingly develop the courage to be more vocal and communicative with others.

Writers note: I’m naturally quiet in person, but when I’m playing on a court with a team, I enjoy being vocal and I find it to be important with winning [6].

As team members, it’s a duty to encourage one another, to offer motivation, and support to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Furthermore, communication and fast decision making is a highly transferable skills for growing in everyday life.

As you improve at the sport and develop communication skills along the way, you’ll grow in confidence.

This will likely extend to other areas of your life, as you gain a newfound belief in your abilities and most importantly: your sense of self.

Summary: Playing basketball, or any team sport for that matter, may increase your communication and confidence. Science has also found that intra-team communication can promote a teams ability to win [6].

Develops Fundamental Movement Skills

Basketball centers on the development of motor skills [7] which are necessary in all walks of life.

Playing from a young age can greatly improve your coordination, endurance and flexibility.

However, even if you’re a latecomer to the game, that doesn’t mean to say it’s too late to develop these crucial skills.

Basketball encourages speed, strength and agility, along with the previously mentioned attributes.

With a positive effect on your body being achieved from engaging in physical activity, your cardiorespiratory fitness and self-esteem will also be amplified.

These positive effects all contribute to a positive impact on your ability to move, and from an all-encompassing perspective your overall health and wellbeing.

Summary: Basketball can help you develop your speed, strength, agility, and coordination which when combined, can enhance your ability to move.

Promotes Weight Loss

Basketball can help you lose weight because it increases the number of calories (energy) your body burns [8].

However, if you consume more calories than you burn off, you’ll increase your chances of gaining weight.

So, if you stayed under your daily caloric requirement, the weight you will be losing would be from fat rather than from muscle because intense basketball can increase your muscular endurance.

Summary: Basketball can increase your daily caloric requirement as you burn more energy when playing the sport. This may help you lose weight if you have a well maintained Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). You can work out your TDEE here.

Enhances Your Immune System

Basketball can boost your immune system depending on the intensity and duration of the training.

If you with intense exercise for less than 60 minutes, the immunoglobulins (antibodies) have enhanced circulation meaning you’re better able to fight bacteria, viruses and toxins within your immune system [9].

However, if you train for a prolonged period of time with high exertion, there is evidence to support that you may not only experience immune dysfunction, but also oxidative stress and muscle damage [9].

Summary: There is evidence to support that basketball (or any physical activity) may boost your immune system response when high intensity movements are made over a short duration of time (less than 60 mins).

Conclusion

I hope you have found some of the biggest benefits to basketball insightful.

Now I’d like to turn it over to you: 

Which benefit from today have you found to be the most interesting?

Are you looking forward to playing basketball, knowing how many benefits there are?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below or direct messaging us on Instagram.

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Austen Lenihan

Austen is an experienced Basketball player who has competed at various levels throughout his sporting life. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned player, Austen aspires to share actionable content with those looking to learn more about the game. Austen's motto: "Unlock your true potential and don’t settle for anything less than greatness!" Learn more about Austen here. Here are a few clips of Austen playing basketball